Mastering the Mind Shift

One of the things I learned early on in my coaching career was that I often felt like I was learning more from my players than they were learning from me. Especially when I got out of my own way and was more aware of what was happening.

That has certainly been the case with my two kids (Maddie and EJ) as we navigated the shelter-at-home order that was in place in spring of 2020.

How so?

Well, when we first started the e-learning my little man was a bit shy when it came to Zoom meetings with his class, friends, and even his karate class. That caught Nancy and me completely by surprise and I admit it was a bit frustrating at first.

Then, for some reason, it dawned on me how confusing it must be to him and that everything was so new. We all adjust at a different pace and I needed to continue to encourage him and allow him to figure out what good things can happen outside of his comfort zone.

He started to come around… even asking for us to leave the camera on yet still he was not quite his usual “jabber jaws.”

As he started to become more engaged and realized that this Zoom thing was not so bad, he opened up a bit.

Who Knew It Would Take Blue Hair?

Then we received an email from his speech teacher letting us know that she was going to mix it up and have crazy hair day for her sessions with her students. My man could not have been more fired up and guess what… he was on fire during their session.

So, what does this have to do with growing through this time?


What EJ experienced was a mind shift. Without knowing it, he was reframing the situation and no longer viewed getting on Zoom at a certain time as something he had to do, rather it was something he got to do. Instead of his focus on being that he needed to sit still for 30 minutes, he viewed it as an opportunity to show off his blue mohawk! Which was perfect because his wig is completely out of control!

The result… he actually started to look forward to each Zoom meeting with or without the blue hair because he realized the potential for fun each call held.

I have heard it said that a mind shift can be an “aha- moment on steroids!”

If you have heard me say it once you have heard me say it a thousand times before… “the things I looked at began to change when I changed the way I looked at them.”

A mind shift is a change of focus and perception which has extraordinary power to:

  • Make relationships more positive and healthier
  • Improve your focus and rate of success
  • Build self-esteem and overall happiness

Resilient leaders have the ability to consciously mind shift which allows them to accept reality (not settle for it!) and understand the challenges they face, have a solid grasp of the risks and opportunities that are present, and the ability to communicate those things to all the stakeholders with integrity, positive energy, and passion.

Five Keys to Making the Shift

  • Optimism vs. Realism. In his book Good to Great, author Jim Collins explains how companies who successfully navigated crises and major adversity were able to stoically accept the brutal facts of reality while maintaining an unwavering faith in the endgame, and a commitment to prevail despite the circumstances. He called this the Stockdale Paradox, referring to Admiral Jim Stockdale who was the highest-ranking United States Military officer in the “Hanoi Hilton” POW camp during the height of the Vietnam War. When Collins asked Stockdale the question about who didn’t make it out of the camp vs. who did, he is caught off guard by the answer. “The optimists… the ones who thought we would be out by Christmas and then Christmas would come and go. Then it would be Easter and then Thanksgiving… and then they died of a broken heart.” Then Stockdale went on to explain that “you must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end – which you can never afford to lose – with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever that might be.”
  • Isolation vs. Connection. It is easy to feel isolated during these times. Human nature is to feel connected to a group and a purpose and when we lack that it becomes lonely. For me, it was a significant challenge when I walked away from coaching college basketball that took me to a very dark place… for a long time. Stay aware and identify the isolation trap, be proactive, and assert yourself in connecting with others. There has never been a better time to pick up the phone and call, drop a hand-written note in the mail, send an email, or text. I have reconnected with so many people during this time. Go find your tribe.
  • Passive vs Purposeful. On March 12th, 2020 I was supposed to fly out to Utah to meet my great friend Trey for an epic two-day ski trip (trust me, we would make it epic in only two days) and the night before we were on the phone as we both watched our tv’s as things began to unfold in the NBA with the Utah Jazz – OKC situation. If you are unfamiliar with what happened, the game was canceled due to one of the players testing positive for COVID-19. Right then and there, despite having already checked-in online, I decided to cancel my trip. Not because I feared getting sick, but I feared being a carrier and bringing the virus back home. My Mom has had her health challenges and though my Dad is as healthy as anyone I know, he is still 75. In other words, I had a purpose to make certain decisions and certain sacrifices that were way bigger than me. Having a purpose that transcends ourselves enables us to push through difficult challenges. Remember, when purpose is bigger than pain, purpose wins. In a time full of so much uncertainty, purpose will give you a greater sense of control and you will become more resilient, experience more gratitude, and feel a deeper connection to others. Identify your purpose, operate with it at the front of your mind, and you will be the rock that your family needs, that your team needs, and that you need.
  • Laugh Often and Laugh Hard. Be honest, when you saw that picture of my man EJ, it brought a smile to your face. We have been doing a lot of laughing around here. Sure… there has been a bit of raising our voices and life lessons… but we have had more laughter. There are times Maddie and I will look at each other after her brother has made one of his funny faces or said something so unexpected and we just crack up. It makes everyone feel better and you know what… it anchors you in the present moment.

Keep doing great things!

This was originally published as a weekly newsletter from Ed Molitor, with The Molitor Group. If you’d like to receive the weekly newsletter, follow this link to subscribe.


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